Marching Orders

Today my inbox contained an advertisement for another protest. I’ll quote its text and add my comments here.

“IT’S TIME FOR A CHANGE!!
This is a call to all workers and students of America to unite and revive the
struggles for equality, justice, and rights! Let’s take the fight directly to
Washington D.C. with a massive protest in front of the White House on Saturday,
March 20th, 2010!

“End the imperial wars in Iraq & Afghanistan. Bring all the troops home now!”

Good so far.

“Demand money for job creation, not war.”

From whom? Government doesn’t create jobs – it only rearranges things. Read Bastiat for example. And since powerful interests have access to power structures, who do you think rearrangement will benefit?

Now if you mean you plan to rob Obama, that’s one thing, but I don’t think you’ll pull it off.

“Demand an equitable and sustainable economic alternative to capitalism!”

From the federal government?

“Equal pay for women.”

A reasonable message for people to hear.

“Raise the minimum wage.”

It would be better to lower barriers to entry and defend the underground economy while making it more egalitarian. Monopoly capitalism is what makes work pay so little. See for starters Charles Johnson’s “Scratching By: How Government Creates Poverty as We Know It”.

“Free, quality healthcare for all.”

Again, you’re expecting the federal government to provide this?

“Ends [sic] capitalist attacks against labor unions & expand rights to organize
unions.”

Kind of vague, but generally a good sentiment. Hopefully repealing or violating labor-control laws, as Kevin Carson advocates in The Ethics of Labor Struggle, is part of the idea.

“Free, high quality education from pre-school through college.”

You mean tax-funded coercive schooling based on separating young people from the outside world and teaching them that being smart means pleasing authority? Real education is something we must make without the state’s blessing.

“Tax corporate profits and slash the military budget to fund human needs.”

Taxation is theft, and not all corporations are thieves. Military budgets should be slashed and burned (and ideally replaced with consensual alternatives like militias and anti-authoritarian security companies). But why should the government decide which human needs deserve funding?

“Immediate moratorium on foreclosures and evictions.”

Banks are robbing people, and maybe a march on the White House can make this message clearer. But considering the massive support Obama had from the Too-Big Failures, I wouldn’t expect too much from him.

“Fight racism and the racist criminal ‘justice’ system.”

Good idea. Past and present social control has led to, among other things, astounding differences in incarceration rates between the races.

“Stop exploitation of immigrants and demand full rights.”

Widespread recognition of the rights inherent in every individual, regardless of where they come from, and regardless of what lines they cross without asking permission from those who rule the lines, will end the exploitation of immigrants.

In addition to publicizing the idea with marches, locally creating an environment where immigrants are safe will help. If nobody turns them in, and they know in advance when Immigrations and Customs Enforcement arrives, their freedom will increase tremendously.

“Fight to protect the Earth from capitalist plundering and exploitation.”

This is vague. It’s good to protect the environment (we’re a part of it after all) but I’m not sure what kind of specifics are meant by this plank.

“Stop police brutality and mass incarceration.”

Definitely with you on this one. An angry march might force concessions from the White House. But we also need to build the anti-authoritarian organizations that will displace the state and help people evade the criminal justice system.

“End government torture and secret prisons.”

I’m glad this is included. I hope it is made clear that torture and secret prisons are complete outrages.
“Rebuild New Orleans—Right of return for all survivors.”

Government-directed development will benefit those who have access to power. Defending what people build from government and its cronies is important.

“Defend women’s reproductive rights, including the right to choose.”

Good idea.

“Defend LBGT rights and marriage.”

So long as marriage is a state institution, it should be equally accessible to all (I’m not convinced that it’s an institution worth keeping after the state is gone). I am glad the statement makes it clear that LBGT rights include more than marriage, but I generally feel like the phrasing “LBGT rights” reinforces borders between people. Saying something like “the rights of queer people” sounds more like they have the same rights as anybody, but are under attack for being queer. At least to me. But yeah, this is a good plank to include.

Of course, government defends power, not individuals. We must defend ourselves using solidarity and whatever weapons we find useful.

“Criminal prosecution of banking, finance, insurance and all other executives whose companies have benefited from the foreclosure crisis.”

Calling for the prosecution of anyone who has “benefited” from an event is problematic. Benefiting from something doesn’t mean that one was responsible.

“End military intervention and aggression against progressive social movements in Latin America.”

Hopefully including Haiti (see my Center For a Stateless Society column, “In Haiti, Control Becomes a Priority”).

“Abolishment of the Patriot Act and immediate restoration of all civil liberties!”

I won’t argue with that.

“These are just some of the reasons to take action and demand real changes!
Democracy is not a spectator sport! For more information call 773-463-0311 or
visit http://www.march20.org”

You can demand real changes all you want, but don’t neglect the direct action of making real changes. Avoid the detour signs of authority and build networks of resistance that help people live apart from and in opposition to authority.

It is within each of us to make ourselves a role in building a free world.

Free Markets & Capitalism?
Markets Not Capitalism
Organization Theory
Conscience of an Anarchist